Duque’s party, the Democratic Center, is referred to as “the Uribistas” for a reason; they are loyal only to Uribe and expect the same from the president.
Within the government, the president is surrounded by Uribe’s most loyal underbosses, who have been able to make sure Duque doesn’t get the wrong idea he’s the boss.
Too many Uribista underbosses
With Uribe in jail, the government would become rudderless. Neither Duque nor Uribe’s underbosses have the natural authority to take the wheel or the competence to prevent the ministers to do as they see fit.
Within the party, there would be efforts to make sure both the government and the members of Congress stay in line, but also there is nobody with the authority to maintain control, especially over the party’s most radical members of Congress.
If the court doesn’t drop the fraud and bribery charges, the best case scenario for the Uribistas would be a court decision to put Uribe under house arrest, allowing “the eternal president” to continue running the government and his members of Congress from home.
This would prevent infighting within the Democratic Center in Congress, and between the Uribista congressmen and the Duque administration.
Social unrest more likely if Uribe charges dropped
The shock wave, however, will be tremendous, not just within the government and the coalition as Uribe also has allies outside his party, and other political power mongers with serious reasons to fear justice could get nervous.
None of them, however, enjoy the popular support to cause serious social unrest in support of an alleged criminal, unless they receive support from the Uribista faction within the military.
Uribe’s court hearing in October and the massive anti-government protests in November last year indicate that chances for social unrest are considerably bigger if the former president is released.
Uribe is way past his political expiration date and his party was on the way out already.
Rival political forces on the left, in the center and on the right are ready to feed the Uribistas to the lions and fill their gap in the 2022 elections.